Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Tree Top

Tree Top
18" x 24" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

I started this sometime last winter. It went through several colour permutations before I finally decided to let it be. Once again I was hoping and trusting that a fresh view of it in time would help me assess next steps. When I picked it up again, a few weeks ago, I changed the colour of the tree trunk, and finally was happy with the finished work. It is based on a photo of a plane tree - a subject that I have been intrigued with for a few years and have painted on  larger scale that you can see here and here. In this smaller work I really played with the foliage, transforming them into coloured discs and allowed the tree trunk to be plane. 

Happy New Years Eve and Best Wishes for a Safe, Healthy and Happy 2015!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Abstract Figure Paintings

I was looking through an old sketchbook today and found these drawings done in an Open Life Figure Drawing session a year ago. I decided to push their abstract quality with colour. 

Sketchbook Figure Study 1
approximately 14" x 12" - watercolour - NFS

Sketchbook Figure Study 2
approximately 16" x 14" - watercolour - NFS

Sunday, 28 December 2014

More Watercolour Play

I am really enjoying this recent dabbling with watercolour - in fact it has become rather addictive. Though I will soon be getting back to my regular studio and the "landscapes" that still need work, I think that this diversion with another medium has been a good tonic, and I will endeavour to continue with it in the new year.

The small paintings below are both based on the same photo/scene taken a few years back.

Pathways 1
9" x 5" - watercolour on arches - $25

Pathways 2
6.5" x 5.5" - watercolour on arches - $25

Saturday, 27 December 2014

North Thompson River watercolour paintings

North Thompson River I
 7.5" x 7" - watercolour on arches paper - $25

Every once in a while I get out my watercolours and play, which means that I experiment with the paint, and try to work freely and spontaneously. I love working wet colour into wet colour and seeing what happens. That is what I did the other day. I like to work on several (1- 4+) compositions at once, and even the same image because so often when painting in acrylic, I reach a point when I think oh it would be cool if I did this and changed this and will do another to see what that is like etc., but then don't.  

North Thompson River II
6.5" x 6" - watercolour on arches paper - $25

These two small watercolours are based on a photo I took while travelling in western Canada a year or so ago and show the North Thompson River, near Kamloops in British Columbia. The photo does not do the view or landscape justice - but I hope that my small paintings do! Cheers!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Big Skies

Despite saying that I was going to not paint for a few days over Christmas......I found that I had some time, so out came the watercolour paints and paper and I had great fun playing! I did some big dramatic skies in response to the Daily Paintworks recent Paint the Sky challenge. 
Looking Up
9" x 6"  - watercolour & acrylic on arches paper

Big Weather Sky
11" x 8"  - watercolour on arches paper

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Another Landscape (#2) On the Easel

I mentioned in my last post that I have been working on several landscapes;  this is the second one. It is based on a photo I took last summer at a friend's cottage, and then painted later  in my studio. I really liked this first painting but it was much tighter and more abstract than I had originally imagined and so I wanted to try another version that had a 'lighter' palette and was looser and more painterly.

I was quite pleased with my 'start', the palette and loose brushstrokes. Then I kept painting, trying to define the foliage in the trees in a loose way and trying not to re-create what I did in the first version. It was a back and forth 'dance' with the brush, over several hours and days.....and this is what it looks like now.


Looking at it critically I think the painting looks too symmetrical, appearing to be divided down the middle by a light area, and bounded by dark trees on either side. I always prefer compositions that are more asymmetrical as they seem to be less static visually. My earlier loose vertical brush strokes have been overtaken by a web of horizontal strokes intended to suggest tree branches, but they are too regular and contrived. The curved horizon line separating the ground from the background, also looks too extreme. I do like the foreground pink and yellow colours and the background yellow sky and the way the foliage lightens up in the background. 

Lots to think about and eventually work on - but at this point I am going to take a break, enjoy Christmas with my family and friends and hope that the 'aha' moment strikes when I return to my studio in the new year. 
In the meantime I wish you Season's Greetings and the very best in 2015!

Friday, 19 December 2014

On the Easel - landscape #1

Over the last two weeks I have worked on several landscape paintings, and at this point have only finished one - The Chateau de Bourgane Poppies - the subject of my last post. I was really happy with the painting and to have finally finished something.

The Chateau de Bourgane Poppies
The two unfinished works are still staring at me. The first was inspired by a photo I took near my cottage in Ontario showing coniferous trees and their reflections in water - something I love because of the endless possibilities for artistic play.  I began with a red underpainting and then quickly brushed in the large shapes using lots of colour, including black and white, keeping everything loose and painterly.
stage 1
At this stage it looked a little garish, so I began to tone down the colour, pushed the red back, and changed the palette to a cool and subdued one of blues and violets.
stage 2
This is where I stopped. My husband pointed out that the reflection shapes of the trees and sky holes in the water don't line up, so I need to fix that. I like the defined shapes of some of the trees in the water and the way they contrast with the mushy shapes of the trees against the sky. I also like the palette, and layered blue hues of the background trees. As I write this I am beginning to see my next steps........but I need to leave it for now as the countdown to Christmas has begun in my house. I will get back to it and January, so stay tuned. Any thoughts or comments are always welcome!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Chateau de Bourgane Poppies, Encore

Chateau de Bourgane Poppies
24" x 24" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
I have experimented with this landscape scene several times since my visit to the grounds of this lovely chateau in Provence, last May. While there I painted several abstract versions in watercolour and gouache, but also wanted to paint a larger canvas in acrylic. This is probably the least interpretive version, though I did, as usual take liberties with the intensity of the colour and palette.  Below is a detail of the centre area.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


12" x 12" - acrylic on canvas - $150
I love painting animals.....dogs, cats, cows, sheep, fish (they are not really animals are they).
Nikki is a 6 year old boxer owned by our friends Brian and Pat. I work from photos that I prefer to take myself, and then play with colour. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Promenade III

                                                Les Bassacs Promenade III
                                         24" x 20" -  acrylic on canvas  -   $350

I painted an earlier version of this scene, inspired by a photo I took in May and by my memories of walking along a light-filled path that overlooked vineyards, in the tiny hamlet of Les Bassacs in the Luberon Valley of Provence. I like using paths and roads that lead the eye and draw the viewer into the landscape. Pathways can symbolize are all kinds of personal journeys - physical, mental, and emotional. What is around the bend? Follow the road and see where it leads. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014


24" x 36" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
I am fascinated by how reflections appear in water - and take photos of them, when and wherever I can. Coloratura is a variation on one of these designs, based on essentially a detail from a photo. Moody Blues, seen below, was the first variation based on this same detail. I could see so many more visual possibilities for these flowing abstract shapes, I knew that I would work with this same composition again, using more colour, or a different palette.

The fun thing about this new work is that when you rotate it, it also looks quite interesting......

The title Coloratura is a musical term  'generally used to describe vocal music that is extensively ornamented and calls for ability in a very high register'. I thought it fit here too.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Looking Up

Looking Up
24" x 30" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

I started this painting last winter while I was in Florida, and worked on it over a couple of weeks. I spent so much time looking at it that I lost all ability to judge it. So I left it alone - for 6 months - and with new eyes, l have decided that it's finished and I like it!
If it's snowing where you are - think of palm trees against a bright blue sun-filled sky - and feel the warmth. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Colourfield I

Colourfield I
28" x 22" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
While I was painting the large water lily painting (see earlier posts!) I worked on this landscape too.
The composition is based on a subject/photo I have used before - but interpreted each time, quite differently. In this painting I simplified the landscape field into a number of connecting horizontal shapes, which became more abstract and defined as they moved forwards and down the picture plane. The colour scheme developed as I painted, but essentially followed the value pattern based on the photo. The background trees and especially the clump you see on the right were the biggest challenge, in terms of colour and differentiating it from the foreground detail, to suggest the illusion of depth and aerial perspective. This was such fun to paint that I can't wait to paint others in this loose, abstract style.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Day 4 - Completion

 day 4
48' x 48" - acrylic on canvas

The changes from day 3 to day 4 are subtle, and probably somewhat difficult to see because the variation and gradation in colour on the painting surface and the brushstrokes, get lost in the photograph and then on the computer screen, despite my best attempts at adjusting colour, saturation, exposure and contrast in photoshop!  I am happy with the finished work - but now need a proper title!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Subtle Changes, Day 3

day 3
I worked on this painting a few days ago, refining shapes, values and colour. The big change from day 2 to day 3 is  in the elimination of the 'vein lines' on the lily pads. They were too graphic and incompatible with the painterly, loose interpretation I wanted. I also added more colour to the large lily flower and stem, as well as in the water. At the end of the day I felt that the painting was coming together well, so it was a good time to stop. My next steps will be to continue refining colour and value. I think the finish is in sight!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Painting Continues - Day 2

day 2
It has been a couple of days since I started this large 4' x 4' painting, inspired by lily ponds in general and based on a detail from a photo I took of a lily and pads in a decorative pond. To remind you (and myself) this is what day 1 looked like....
day 1
I was unhappy with the shape of the lily pads here, and was uncomfortable with some of  the empty water/blue space. When working from photos there is always a point at which I have to put that image aside, and work with what I have on the canvas. After all painting should involve some I started by re-drawing the shapes of the large lily pads at the top and bottom, and then began to add more pads in the areas that looked a little too empty. The lily flower was actually a delicate blue-violet, as was the bud, but I decided to darken and alter the colour in order to make them stand out. I am not certain they will remain the colours you see here, but I am happy with how they appear at this point. I really like the suggestion of more lily pads indicated with just a darker blue outline, but disappearing back into the water (as they do) through colour. I could also achieve this same effect by making these pads a slightly darker blue, but will leave them for now. I also outlined many of the shapes with some dark violet paint and this has given the painting a strong graphic feel, which I like, but I am not sure that I want to maintain. Time to take another break, and figure out my next steps and will get back to work in a day or two. Cheers.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Poppies in Honour of Remembrance Day, November 11.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This poem is called In Flanders Fields, and was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in May 1915. It is one that many people in the English speaking world know well, and is publicly recited each year on November 11, to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice on the field of battle. The Remembrance or Memorial Poppy, was inspired by the poem, and has been used since 1921 to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. The poppies  they were first used by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers who died in that war (1914–1918). They were then adopted by military veterans' groups in parts of the former  British Empire: The UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, they are mainly used in the UK and Canada to commemorate their servicemen and women who have been killed in all conflicts since 1914. If you are interested in knowing more about how the the poppy became the symbol that it is today - and it's quite interesting - go here.

Thus today seemed like a good day to paint some poppies. Both are in watercolour on archival paper; the first is a more traditional watercolour rendering, and the second is more loose and painterly. 

8" x 7" - watercolour on archival paper - $25

Remembrance Poppy
6.5" x 7" - watercolour on archival paper - $25

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Evolution of a Painting - Day 1

Who cannot look at a lily pond and not think of light, colour, art and of course Claude Monet. Monet (1840–1926) painted approximately 250 oil paintings featuring water-lilies or Nymphéas, and were the main focus of Monet's artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. In May, I was in Paris for a few days and saw the cycle of eight water-lily painting murals at the Musée de l'Orangerie. 

It was interesting to see how large they actually are - 6.5 feet tall and if lined up side by side, 298 feet in width. As I walked back and forth, moving in close to see the texture and build up of paint, then stepping back to see how one area appeared, then moving in again and along the canvas I was not only impressed with the vision of symphonic colour, but the physical demands that painting even one such enormous canvas would have demanded from a younger person, let alone an man already elderly.  
But I am digressing.....

I came across a lily pond in Florida a couple of years ago - it was really a raised circular concrete pool with tropical vegetation surrounding it - and because the light was right and the colours of the flowers, water and lily pads, and the reflections were so interesting, I took lots of photos. I eventually painted two works inspired by the photos, and recently had another look through the collection, and saw some potential for a new composition in a 'detail' from the photo above.

I chose a large canvas -  48" x 48" - as I wanted to depict the subject larger than life. I love painting big and was excited to start, so quickly sketched on the image and began to paint, selecting a palette that basically followed what I saw in the photo. Big canvases require a lot of paint and application work and getting essentially one layer of colour everywhere took several hours - by which time it looked like this.

day 1
I felt that it was a good start but I could also see the problems that would face me the next day. I already didn't like the shape of the larger lily pads. They were fine in the photo, but despite drawing them fairly accurately, they did not look right on the canvas. Then there were the other bits in the bottom right was a good time to stop and sleep on it.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


12" x 12" -  acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

I am sitting in my studio in Guelph Ontario Canada, looking out my window at the fading light (it's actually time to start making dinner) on the golden yellow trees out my window, and thinking about Provence. Wondering what the trees and vegetation looks like there as the autumn advances. I am sure it's warmer there than here.  This little painting is based on a photo taken during my trip there in May - driving in the Camargue area.  Of course when it came to painting, I took artistic license with the colour and palette in general.  Fun to paint and fun to remember the trip!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Moody Blues

Moody Blues
24" x 36"  - acrylic on canvas  
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
I have been fascinated by the shapes and patterns of 'reflections' in water for quite some time, and take photos of them whenever I can. Once back in the studio I play with those images on the computer, isolating and cropping to find interesting abstract compositions. Once found I reduce, eliminate, exaggerate the image through a series of sketches and then continue that process on the canvas. This painting is the result of that kind of process, and for once - I stopped before it looked too polished! As someone who loves colour, it was a challenge to work with a limited and muted palette - but I love the subtlety of colours and the way the blue, green and violets paint hues muddied when they intermixed with the charcoal and pastel used to draw the surface patterning.  

Monday, 20 October 2014

Autumn Woodland

Autumn Woodland
24" x 30"  - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

This painting represents a visual 'slice of life' in Ontario in the autumn. Every year the leaves of the various deciduous trees turn from green to red, orange, gold and are always a sight to behold. It's nature's 'last hurrah' before....well let's not think about that right now!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Looking Pretty

Looking Pretty
20" x 30" -  acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

Remember when you were young and first applying make-up? 
Lots of it and the more colourful, the better. 
This was a fun one to paint, almost as much as those youthful experiments.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Midnight Magic Painting - More Imagination than Reality

Midnight Magic
24" x 36"  acrylic on canvas 

This painting, like so much of my work, is based on a photo. In this case it was one that I took at my cottage one fabulous afternoon in late May, several years ago. The day was unseasonably warm, and the blue blue sky was full of big, fluffy clouds. Their perfect reflection in the calm lake water was amazing, and the stillness made the moment magical.

I have tried to paint this scene several times, but, despite loving the memory of the day and place, found the relentless symmetry, ultimately uninteresting. I realized that what I really wanted to paint were the reflections in the water, and continue to explore this subject in an abstracted, stylized way. Boldness and imagination seemed in order.....thus the photo became a point of departure.

I started this 'new' work last spring, envisioning a very different scene from the photo view - with a dramatic night sky and an even more dramatic interpretation of the water and reflections. The latter, as you can see, is highly imagined, and was great fun to paint. However, but it took all summer to figure out what to do with the sky. Originally I had sketched in some simplified clouds, but they just seemed to take up space and look wrong. When I returned to this canvas a few days ago I worked at the clouds for a while but they didn't improve, so then I painted them out and had an aha! moment, realizing that a simpler cloudless sky would work much better (whether it makes sense logically doesn't really matter), and offer a perfect visual counterpoint to the wild water below. And I think it does, quite successfully.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Prince Edward Island Landscape

Prince Edward Island Landscape
20" x 16"  acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

This painting is based on a photo I took during a trip to Prince Edward Island a few years ago with my daughter. I took photos as we drove (well I did stop the car) through the countryside of Canada's smallest province on the east coast, the fictitious  home of Anne of Green Gables, hoping that some might eventually inspire a painting or two

Though the actual colours of the island landscape in August are, in fact, quite vivid,  they did not come across in my photo. But then that is not really my landscape style anyway, preferring to interpret colour and therefore mood. My process began with reducing the photo to a greyscale version and I developed the colour scheme as I painted.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

High Heel Style

High Style
16" x 20" acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

When my 23 year old law student daughter was little she always wanted me to wear shoes like this - but being a sensible-shoe-kind-of-person who preferred comfort and stability over high fashion (at least on one's feet), I generally stayed away from this kind of footwear. These were her first pair of high heels, and I just had to paint them. A fun painting and a nice break from landscape.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Blue Pines

Blue Pines
24" x 24"  acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
I became fascinated with this view of 'two dead pine trees growing out of some rocks with a lake and a grove of backlit trees' during the summer, after taking some photos of that scene when visiting my good friend Kate at her cottage on Weslemkoon Lake in Ontario. The first version, called Summer Pines (posted in July), was larger, rectangular in format, and more abstract and whimsical in colour - and I have to say that I love it.

Summer Pines
 I started another version soon after and began with the easy changes, to format (square) and palette (analagous: blue, green, yellow). I then started painting the background trees and foliage, and liked how it was evolving and looked - more abstract and painterly. 

stage 1

However, the trees, rocks and water were proving a challenge, so I in frustration I decided to leave the painting for a few days (which turned into weeks), hoping that inspiration, or an idea, or a greater willingness to risk something new, would eventually occur. Sometimes that works. Last week my gaze wandered to this canvas stacked against the wall with others, and I realized how to finish it - by making changes to the foliage, and to just keep painting. Which is what I did, thoroughly enjoying the process. And I love it, too.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Another Promenade from Les Bassacs

Les Bassacs Promenade II
20" x 16"  acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

This painting is based on a photo I took at Les Bassacs, on one of my last glorious days there, walking along one of the many paths towards the vineyards. I spent a long time thinking about how I would paint this view, wanting to capture the sense of light and shade, foliage and sky in the scene. I knew that I did not want detail or tight forms, so decided to work quickly and keep my brush loaded with enough paint to produce fluid strokes of colour. I love painting this way and always wonder why I don't work more often like this!